Pinpointing the Right Tone of Voice for Your Business
A business without a voice doesn't stand a chance of remotely peeking out above the competition. A strong voice can put you as a leader in your industry, and the company that other businesses look towards to model their own business practices after. Distilled.net recommends a varied approach to developing your tone. The company values, personality, humor, storytelling and finally implementation are factors that go into the perfect tone for your business. Once you discover tone, it's important to maintain consistency so customers know what to expect from your business.
Make It All-Encompassing
The tone of your business needs to be taught from the very top to the bottom of your company. Every employee, email and marketing campaign needs to reinforce your company's tone. The tone should provide customers with a sense of what your company values, and it should always maintain consistency with your brand. If you're an edgy business, your messages should be short, sweet and to the point. A company that specializes in creating technical manuals should by nature have marketing that is more wordy and demonstrates your ability to write in a technical manner.
Build Trust With Tone
On the most basic level, don't flop between first-, second- and third-person points of view. Decide on the way you want to portray your brand and stick with it. If you want your company to come from the point of view of the owner or a mascot, stick with first-person. If you want to maintain a disconnect, stick with third-person point of view. A company that is team-oriented might want to use a first-person plural point of view. For example, state that “We are dedicated to winning you over” if you want a first-person plural point of view.
Choose Words Carefully
Starbucks is an example of a company that has a core mission of giving the customer what they want. They demonstrate this in all of their advertising and even their help pages online. They continually reinforce their company mission by using words like personalize, incentive and special. If they use the word “personalize” they will follow it up with terminology like “vary by customer.” It gives a sense that each customer is unique and gets special offers that not everyone is privy too. This is even backed up in their promotions, where “special” customers get access to new drinks before others. Look at companies that have a tone you like, and see how you can create your own vision for your company's tone.
Phrasing is Important
Think about the various ways you could ask for something. You could be direct and simple ask, “Give me time.” Make it less assertive by asking, “Could I have some time?” Be more assertive, while maintaining a friendly tone by stating, “I'll need some time to get back to you.” Or, ask for a favor by asking, “Would it be a problem to get a little more time on this?” There are many ways you can alter your tone and say essentially the same thing. Think about the type of mood you want to create for your customers, and adjust it accordingly. This is especially important when you are creating closed captioning services for customers who can't hear what's being said. They rely on words to help them get a full picture of your company message.
Quality of Writing
You don't have to be an outstanding writer, but your writing should inflect personality. For example, if you want to be known as a company that works with the customer, you might say, “We value our customers and take their personal interests and opinions into account with every decision that is made.” A company that makes decisions for customers might state, “We make your life easier by making the hard choices for you.” Proofread your work, and don't be afraid to hire a writer if grammar is not your strong suit.
The tone can greatly affect how your customers perceive your business. By taking the time to develop a consistent and effective tone, you greatly increase your chances of standing out from the crowd.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Alastair Humphreys
This guest post is courtesy of Jennifer Livingston.